Bracketology update: Villanova still a No. 1 seed, Louisville and Oklahoma get big wins
Southern California also helped its NCAA Tournament selection hopes
A busy day on the bubble Saturday saw three teams pick up key road wins to improve their chances of finding their way into the field of 68 on Selection Sunday.
Southern California won at Utah in a battle of teams near the cutline of my bracket. The win kept the Trojans in for now, although they are still among the last four in. USC's primary problem is a lack of higher quality wins. They have yet to beat a team that is likely to make the NCAA Tournament. They do have neutral court wins over Middle Tennessee and New Mexico State, two teams that the Trojans could be competing with for an at-large bid, as well as season sweep of Utah.
The Utes dropped out of the bracket after the loss, which ended a five-game winning streak. Utah could still play itself back in, but that will require some work in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Louisville is another team lacking in higher quality wins, or even any quality wins, but the Cards now have a couple of road wins over peers in the ACC after beating Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. That completed a season sweep of the Hokies, which accounts for two of the Cardinals four wins in Quadrants 1 and 2. Louisville still has two tough games left, so nothing is definite yet.
Arkansas and Alabama are two teams that have been lousy on the road this season – and that's an Arkansas tradition – but the Razorbacks came away with a 76-73 win in Tuscaloosa last night to play themselves off the bubble for now. Alabama is in trouble though. At 17-12 with two tough games remaining, the Crimson Tide can ill afford to lose at home again.
Florida is the next opponent for Alabama, which will also be in Tuscaloosa, Alabama The Tide won at Forida in their previous meeting, which is their only win away from home against a team that is a threat to make the tournament. The Gators picked up a huge home win over SEC leader Auburn on Saturday to put a little bit of space between themselves and the bottom of the bracket.
Creighton played itself off the bubble with an overtime win at home over No. 1 seed Villanova. The Bluejays only have games left against teams that can hurt them, so while they are not on the bubble any more, they could still slide back if they trip up. Despite the loss, Villanova remains a No. 1 seed.
Oklahoma finally got a win, breaking their six-game losing streak against Kansas State. The Sooners are still a bubble team and cannot be just a one-hit wonder, but that is a step in the right direction. The Wildcats, despite a good conference record, they only have one win over a sure tournament team. That came at home against TCU. They also split home and home with the Sooners and swept Texas, the last team in the bracket. KSU has a dreadful non-conference schedule and a home loss to Tulsa that are dragging them down and keeping them on the bubble.
Impact of FBI probe
My Twitter feed is full of people who assume that at least some, if not many teams will miss this year's NCAA Tournament because of the FBI probe into college basketball. That is almost certainly not going to be the case. Any sanctions that come for this year's tournament will have to be self-imposed. The NCAA, if it chooses to begin a formal investigation into any of this, will take months to adjudicate anything. No school is formally being investigated yet based on what came out before the season started.
Most of the schools which have active players named in the Yahoo Sports report this week have cleared those players for eligibility. If they believe those players are eligible, they certainly are not going to remove themselves from the NCAA tournament preemptively. Texas and San Diego State are still investigating their players and they could return. Even if they do not, those schools will simply move on without them to whatever postseason destination awaits.
Maybe in the future, some of these teams will be retroactively punished, but do not expect anything to impact this year's tournament.
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Kansas, Duke, Tennessee and Gonzaga are also in the top five